Helping Adult Children with an Addiction

As parents, we never want to see our children suffer, and it doesn’t change as they get older. Adult children that suffer with addiction do so because of choices they make in their lives, and it can negatively impact their whole family. A grown drug addict child can demand just as much attention and resources as a young child. Some parents feel trapped into caring for an adult child with an addiction. It’s sometimes hard to know what to do, what not to do, and how to really help.

One fifth of 18-25 year olds use illicit drugs. Many in this age group have been struggling with drugs since their teen years, which means they never really got on their feet and out on their own. This leaves the parent in a very difficult position. At age 18, 20, or 22, do you insist that your child move out and start providing for themselves?  It’s a difficult question for millions of parents, but the situation becomes much harder when an addiction is involved. How can a parent kick their adult child out of the house when they have no job, no money, and they are physically addicted to drugs?

Consequences of Leaving the Security of a Parent’s Home

Many of these young adult addicts that get sent out of the house do end up homeless, or bouncing from friend to friend, or shelter to shelter. They are in no position to provide for themselves, because their main priority is keeping up with the drugs. So they have little hope of living a real life on their own.

Consequences of Letting an Adult Child Stay

So what should parents do, let their grown children stay around and continue to do drugs? This isn’t the answer either. Parents need to set rules; things like not allowing any drugs or alcohol in the house, insisting the child get at least a part time job, and requiring them to help around the house. Parents should not bend the rules, or let their child take advantage of them, no matter how hard it is. If things get too heated and the parent no longer has control, they should be prepared to warn of consequences, and then carry them out. Show them love and concern and be willing to help them get on their feet, but when that stops working, tough love needs to take over. The last resort would be to send them packing, because without your positive influence and support, things will get miserable for them really quickly. But it is sometimes necessary.

Parents most importantly need to get help for their child. Check out possible programs or facilities and encourage your child to check themselves into treatment. Call a hotline if necessary, or call the police if you need to, but do what you can to get them the help they need.

Unsure where to start? Take Our Substance Abuse Self-Assessment

Take our free, 5-minute substance abuse self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with substance abuse. This evaluation consists of 11 yes or no questions that are designed to be used as an informational tool to assess the severity and probability of a substance use disorder. The test is free, confidential, and no personal information is needed to receive the result. Please be aware that this evaluation is not a substitute for advice from a medical doctor.